You Hurt Your Big Toenail, Now What?

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How long does it take for a nail to grow out?
Common question, but I'm afraid I can't give you an exact answer. Nails grow approximately 1mm a month, but they can grow faster or slower, depending on the overall health of the patient, trauma, or fungus. At one point in my youth I wanted to time myself, so I dotted a small smudge of nail polish at the base of my nail...but of course it chipped off well before it reached the outside edge.
And then there are the unfortunate, traumatic accidents in life that irreversibly "mark" your nail in a certain spot, and then you can very accurately determine how long it takes for a nail to grow from root to tip.

I've been waiting to write this blog for awhile, since the particular traumatized nail in question needed to provide me with a measurement and a picture for the "after" portion in order for this post to be worthwhile.
Big Toe InjuryNote: pictures below of a traumatized nail. Not overly graphic, but you can tell the toe is angry.
 
The Trauma:
This woman was in her tiled kitchen, barefoot, August 3rd, 2013, when she accidentally dropped a serving dish on her big toe, with impact at the base of her nail. The picture below, top left, shows the toe immediately after. Didn't look too impressive, but her pain scale was apparently off the charts. The top middle picture was taken the next day, and the top right and bottom pictures show how much bruising was present at its worst. We took x-rays, which showed a tiny crack in one of the bones in her toe.
She was walking in closed-toed shoes within two weeks, and exercising (running) again within six weeks. She currently has no pain.
Despite the amount of trauma, she did not lose the nail.
Healed Big ToeIt is now almost exactly eight months later, and the following picture shows the state of her current nail. The small white discoloration on the top left of the nail is all the evidence that remains, and is a perfect marker of trauma sustained to the very base of the nail on August 3rd. It is measured at 11 mm from the cuticle, which means this nail grew at a rate of 1.37 mm/month over the last eight months, post-trauma. 
Now I'm going to direct your attention back to the second sentence of this blog where I said I can't give an exact answer regarding how fast nails grow. This growth rate is for a particular patient (healthy, young, great blood flow), but also after a major blunt force trauma. So you may not be able to expect an exact rate of 1.37 mm/month for your nails or anyone else's. Everyone's circumstances (soccer player, wears tight shoes, uses a wheelchair, had an ingrown nail procedure, severe fungal nails) are too individualized to make a guarantee on how fast a nail will grow from root to tip.

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Guest Tuesday, 25 July 2017

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